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Detroit Tigers News: Justin Verlander reaches 2,500 career strikeouts

The former Tigers ace is pitching at an incredible level these days.

Houston Astros  v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Justin Verlander is pitching incredible baseball these days. He has gone from an already Hall of Fame worthy career with the Detroit Tigers to a whole new level of mastery with the Houston Astros. On Wednesday night, he throttled the Los Angeles Angels with a five-hit shutout. Along the way, Verlander reached a major milestone when he became the 33rd pitcher in history to reach 2,500 strikeouts by punching out Shohei Ohtani in the ninth inning.

Verlander most recently passed Don Drysdale on the all-time strikeout list and now sits at 2,500 on the nose. Christy Mathewson will get passed by in five days as he sits 32nd with 2,502 strikeouts. Assuming Verlander’s current pace continues, he should reach 2,650 strikeouts by year’s end, passing luminaries like Warren Spahn and Tom Glavine. Catching David Cone at 2,668, and 23rd all-time, is the highest Verlander can climb in 2018.

Of course, he also has CC Sabathia, the active leader in punchouts out at 2,874 and counting.

Only 16 pitchers have ever reached 3,000 strikeouts. Sabathia should hit that mark during the 2019 season. At this pace, Verlander will have little trouble getting into that elite club sometime in 2020. The nastiest power pitcher of his era is showing no sign of slowing down. Even when that inevitable decline in stuff and health finally comes, there’s nothing saying it won’t be a gentle one. Verlander has stuff for days right now. It’s not hard to imagine that there’s plenty of cushion for him to remain effective for many years to come.

Of course, playing a starring role in the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series probably assured Verlander of a future spot in the Hall of Fame. That run capped a superb series of postseason performances stretching back to 2012 — barring that one with Pablo Sandoval — and cemented Verlander’s status as one of the great big-game pitchers ever. His incredible dominance with the Astros says there is a lot more to come.

In 136 23 innings with the Astros, Verlander now holds a 1.32 ERA with 165 strikeouts to just 25 walks. Somehow, he’s pitching the best baseball of his life. He also appears to have hit a new level in his preparation and execution of a game plan, always his minor Achilles heel with the Tigers.

Verlander will be a free agent again in 2020. The Tigers better be in position to re-sign him and compete for postseason berths by that point. He’s ours. We want him back or we riot.

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